What is The Academy?

The Academy is Head Start’s home for professional learning. It is where you go to earn NHSA credentials and take professional learning courses.

How does it work?

At The Academy, you’ll learn from content experts and leaders in Head Start, build on your specific skills, and grow as an ECE/Head Start professional.

When can I start?

The Academy is always open. Some courses are offered every quarter, while others are available on-demand.

Welcome to The Academy!

Head Start’s home for professional learning

For more than 45 years, the National Head Start Association has worked to coalesce, inspire, and support the Head Start field as a leader in early childhood development and education. The Academy is where all of the knowledge from years of research and practice and other relevant disciplines comes together to support you in your career as a Head Start professional. Designed to help meet the challenges of today, The Academy’s innovative, digital model helps early childhood educators develop the foundational standard and competencies they need to succeed.

At The Academy, you will learn alongside your peers and from expert instructors with experience in the Head Start field. It’s where you come to take classes, build your specific skills, and earn credentials that designate you as a qualified Head Start professional. These credentials and courses, managed by NHSA, are a concrete way to clearly communicate your skills to current and future employers.

Each class at The Academy will focus on developing specific knowledge and skills to support you in your work. While you can take individual classes based on your interests and needs, classes are designed to support you in your early childhood career.


NHSA members have access to an exclusive discount on credentials, in addition to members-only newsletters, exciting new partner initiatives, and many helpful resources and documents.

Credentialing Programs

Credentials are built with specific roles and requirements in mind, and the courses that contribute to each credential are intentionally structured to build skills and knowledge that will drive success in your everyday work. Earning your credential will signal to you, your program, and any future employers that you have developed critical skills in your role. Credentials managed by NHSA are designed to be an asset to you throughout your career, no matter where in the country or early childhood field you move.

While credentials build a series of competencies, either through a self-paced portfolio or a series of classes, micro-credentials extend the formal and informal learning activities that you engage in every day. To earn a micro-credential candidates must engage and learn with others through live webinars or on-demand recordings; reflect on your learning and resources; and complete learning tasks before and after each session.